It has been nearly a year since we have been able to gather in person for worship. Last year, Lenten self-denial suddenly had a whole different meaning. And we thought that giving up coffee was hard?
Since then, we have become like children waiting for Christmas: When will it be here? Are we there yet? When can we come back to church? Every week, then every month, then every two months, we have looked at the numbers and caseloads and the guidelines and the vaccination dates, all of which keep changing. It reminds me of the old “Candid Camera” clip where the gas price goes up while the driver is filling his tank, and we laugh at his reaction.
I know that some, or many, of you are eager to come back to church on Sunday mornings. Church is important. The sanctuary, the sacred environment, the sense of peace and communion with the Divine, the pleasure of greeting your church friends—these are all part of worshiping in the church. These are all things that the pre-recorded services and the Zoom services lack, as much as we try to make those virtual services fulfilling.
So what I want from you is a vote. If I begin holding live worship services in the next few weeks, will you come? The service will be at 8:00am with no music, but it will be a full Holy Eucharist with bread (actually, wafers) but no wine. For even better social distancing, I will give you your wafer using chopsticks, so no one will touch your wafer except you! Masks, hand-washing, and social distancing and other safety measure will be required, as well as limited attendance. I will presume that somebody in the congregation will be willing to be the reader.
The Zoom and the pre-recorded services will not be changed. This would be a third kind of service, in addition to the two virtual services.
Will you come?
I myself will not yet have been vaccinated; my first vaccine has just been administered, and it will be mid-April (two weeks after Easter Day) that, it is believed, I will have achieved full immunity. However, I will be standing, masked, 20 feet from the first pew, and at the exchange of the Peace, I will wave, bow, or blow kisses to you.
We will not require a vaccination card, or require that you have been vaccinated. I would trust in your own sense of caution, self-care, and consideration for others. You have been very patient so far. You have kept safe so far. Will an in-person worship service feel safe enough for you?
If I were to have to make this decision by myself, and only for myself, I would lean towards waiting until my own full immunity from the coronavirus, which will be in mid-April. But I do not live for myself alone, and I am here to serve you. With safety protocols provided by the diocese and also by your SPOD (Strategic Planning and Organizational Development team) last year, I believe that in-person worship will be relatively safe, though of course not guaranteed. And for many of you, the desire, the longing, and the need to come to church on Sunday morning is like an aching wound. It is my longing also.
So my question is: If I begin offering a worship service by late February or early March, will you come?
You can respond to me by emailing me directly at email@example.com. Let me know if you would come, or if you would not, and if you wish, you can also tell me why and give me any other comments or suggestions! I appreciate hearing from you!